Global Soil Partnership

Terms of Reference

Recognizing the critical role of soils for food security and ecosystem services, on the basis of the recommendation made by the FAO High-Level External Committee (HLEC) on the Millennium Development Goals (Rome, 13‑14 October 2009) to the Director-General and through conclusions reached at the 22 Session of the FAO Committee on Agriculture (COAG)
(Rome 16‑19 June 2010), FAO was requested to establish a Global Soil Partnership. After preparatory and participatory work by FAO, a meeting was convened in Rome from 7 to 9 September 2011 to present to FAO Members and key stakeholders a proposal for the establishment of the Global Soil Partnership (GSP) and to obtain reactions and recommendations on the way forward.

The meeting fully endorsed the importance and timeliness of the partnership and agreed to:

  1. establish a Technical Working Group, composed of soil scientists from a large number of national and international institutions, to prepare a Zero draft version of the Terms of Reference (ToRs) of the Global Soil Partnership;
  2. organize the review of a draft version of the ToRs by an Open‑Ended Working Group composed of Permanent Representatives to FAO.

A Technical Working Group (composed of 76 voluntary members worldwide) was established and worked for four months to prepare a draft of the ToRs for the establishment of the GSP.

Subsequently, these ToRs were reviewed and edited by an Open-Ended Working Group composed of FAO Members. This version was submitted to COAG at its 23 Session (Rome, 21‑25 May 2012). Following the expression of support by a broad range of countries COAG endorsed the initiative for the establishment of the Global Soil Partnership and suggested further review of its ToRs by an Open-Ended Working Group before its submission to the FAO Governing Bodies.

The review process by members of the Open-Ended Working Group was conducted in an inclusive manner, and after three rounds of consultations the majority of proposals were incorporated into the final version.

At the 145 FAO Council country members of FAO analyzed the Terms of Reference and concluded “The Council approved the Terms of Reference of the Global Soil Partnership and recommended the implementation of the initiative”.

©FAO/Saeed Khan


The Global Soil Partnership (GSP) is a voluntary initiative and does not create any legally binding rights or obligations for its partners or for any other entity under domestic or international law.

Some of the key objectives

  • create and promote awareness among stakeholders on sustainable soil management
  • address critical soil issues that are globally and regionally relevant for sustaining the provision of ecosystem services
  • support the acquisition of relevant soil knowledge and the implementation of targeted research
  • promote links between existing multilateral initiatives and bodies